Systematic Review| Volume 47, ISSUE 4, P345-353.e1, July 2015

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A Systematic Review of Data Collection Techniques Used to Measure Preschool Children’s Knowledge of Food and Nutrition

  • Nicola Wiseman
    School of Medicine, Gold Coast Campus, Griffith University, Gold Coast, Queensland, Australia

    Population and Social Health Research Program, Menzies Health Institute Queensland, Gold Coast Campus, Griffith University, Southport, Queensland, Australia
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  • Neil Harris
    Address for correspondence: Neil Harris, PhD, Public Health, School of Medicine, Rm 3.13, Bldg GO5, Griffith University, Gold Coast Campus, Queensland 4222, Australia; Phone: (61-7) 555 27879; Fax: (61-7) 555 28799
    School of Medicine, Gold Coast Campus, Griffith University, Gold Coast, Queensland, Australia

    Population and Social Health Research Program, Menzies Health Institute Queensland, Gold Coast Campus, Griffith University, Southport, Queensland, Australia
    Search for articles by this author



      To identify and review data collection techniques used to measure preschool children’s knowledge of food and nutrition.


      A systematic review of published research guided by the Preferred Reported Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-analyses statement.


      Published journal articles between 1980 and 2013 reporting research involving the measurement of preschool children’s (aged 3–5 years) knowledge of food and nutrition.


      Twenty studies were eligible for inclusion. The studies reported the use of a range of innovative age-appropriate techniques to assess children’s knowledge of food and nutrition. Data collection techniques were grouped under 3 broad approaches: (1) interviews, (2) use of stimulus material and prompts, and (3) structured play-based activities. Only 3 of the reviewed studies tested for both reliability (test-retest and internal consistency) and face and content validity. Only 9 of the reviewed studies reported pilot-testing their instruments before use.

      Conclusions and Implications

      Results from this review suggest that additional research is needed to develop more valid and reliable measures to assess preschool children’s knowledge of food and nutrition. Assessment tools need to be pilot-tested, refined, and adapted to suit both the specific audience and the components of the nutrition knowledge being targeted by an intervention before implementing a nutrition education program.

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